Reuters: Germany, U.K. ETFs Best Way to Play Europe

With the recent agreement to save the Eurozone, European leaders seem to be ignoring one of the major problems, which is that Europe’s “economies are growing too slowly,” says Reuters.

The strict budget guidelines outlined in the agreement may actually exacerbate this problem Add cost-cutting austerity measures and huge debt burdens to slow growth and the recession that’s already engulfing Spain, Portugal and Greece will soon move into France and Germany over the next six months, according to Standard & Poor’s.

The United Kingdom also offers opportunities because it doesn’t use the euro, but rather the pound sterling. Because the UK has control over its currency, it can take measures to offset the slowing growth. The iShares MSCI United Kingdom Index Fund (EWU) holds 106 stocks, and provides a decent proxy for the British stock benchmark, the FTSE 100, which is currently not tracked by a U.S. ETF.

Because of recession fears and as a proxy for their European-wide market viewpoints, investors have been selling German stocks. The sell-off has left the German market trading at nine times forward earnings vs. the S&P 500’s forward multiple of about 12. Reuters says a good way to play the European crisis is to buy German stocks because of low valutions and because any drop-off in German exports to Europe may be picked up by the U.S. and China. I doubt the U.S. and China can make up for Europe’s weakness. But a good way to play it is to buy the iShares MSCI Germany Index Fund (EWG), which holds Germany’s 50 largest companies. It’s down 17% this year and yields 3.3%.

If you believe the euro will continue to fall as the debt crisis continues, Reuters says pick up the PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish (UUP). By tracking the performance of the dollar against the euro and five other currencies it provides a hedge to U.S. investors holding European stocks.

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